Free to range again

The Poultry Bulletin - - CONTENTS -

Europe fo­cuses on pre­ven­tion with lasers and vac­cines

Free to range again

Euro­pean avian in­fluenza ex­perts have sug­gested that wild birds car­ry­ing bird flu should have left most of the con­ti­nent by now, so it is rea­son­ably safe for pro­duc­ers to allow their freerang­ing lay­ers out­side. This de­vel­op­ment would re­store the much prized ‘free range’ sta­tus of the eggs.

Dutch, Bri­tish and Ger­man egg pro­duc­ers all lost their free-range sta­tus af­ter a manda­tory hous­ing or­der forced them to keep their birds in­side for more than 12 weeks. While the move was ini­tially com­plied with un­com­plain­ingly, farm­ers and farmer or­gan­i­sa­tions later said they ‘faced ruin’ af­ter the hous­ing or­der caused them to lose their sta­tus. Even when the virus was still around, there was a call to let birds out again purely for eco­nomic rea­sons. Ex­porters of poul­try meat and hatch­ing eggs will nev­er­the­less suf­fer for at least an­other three months un­til the

af­fect coun­tries are cer­ti­fied free of bird flu and ex­ports al­lowed to re­sume.¡

Greece gets Asian flu

Pre­vi­ously only de­tected in Asia, Greece is the first Euro­pean coun­try to re­port an out­break of the highly path­o­genic H5N6 strain of bird flu. This de­vel­op­ment is par­tic­u­larly wor­ry­ing, as au­thor­i­ties have no idea of the source of this strain of the virus, says the OIE.

Ap­prox­i­mately 60 birds have been culled at a farm in the north-west part of Greece, which bor­ders Al­ba­nia and Mace­do­nia.

Ini­tially, the dis­ease was thought to be the H5N8 strain, but later tests re­vealed it to be H5N6, which has been oc­cur­ring in Asian coun­tries since 2014, where the dis­ease has been linked to at least 12 deaths in hu­mans.¡

Rus­sian farm culls flock

Alarge poul­try farm near Moscow Oblast is culling 250 000 chick­ens be­cause of an out­break of the highly path­o­genic H5N8 strain of bird flu. Ve­teri­nary au­thor­i­ties are also tak­ing all pos­si­ble mea­sures to pre­vent hu­man con­tam­i­na­tion.

The dis­ease was ini­tially de­tected on 1 March, and within a few days, more than 6 000 birds had died. The re­main­ing flock at the fa­cil­ity is be­ing culled, and all farms in the re­gion have been in­structed to im­ple­ment strin­gent biose­cu­rity mea­sures.

Vac­cine atom­i­sa­tion for AI im­mu­ni­sa­tion

Afew more re­search steps to go and then mass vac­ci­na­tion of poul­try against bird flu will be a vi­able op­tion, says Pro­fes­sor of Vac­ci­nol­ogy Anke Huck­riede of the Univer­sity→

of Gronin­gen, who adds that good im­mu­ni­sa­tion can be en­sured by atom­i­sa­tion of the vac­cine in the poul­try house.

Huck­riede over­sees the re­search done in de­vel­op­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties of mass vac­ci­na­tion of poul­try, the best way of which is via in­hala­tion through the lungs. In Fe­bru­ary 2013, a Dutch con­sor­tium con­sist­ing of sci­en­tists from the Univer­sity of Gronin­gen, the Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter Gronin­gen, Utrecht Univer­sity and the Cen­tral Ve­teri­nary In­sti­tute in Lelystad, started with a re­search project en­ti­tled ‘Pul­monary vac­ci­na­tion of chick­ens against avian in­fluenza us­ing an in­ac­ti­vated virus vac­cine’.

Huck­riede ad­mits that the de­vel­oped meth­ods can­not be fielded yet, al­though the first re­sults show that full pro­tec­tion of the an­i­mals against dis­ease symp­toms as­so­ci­ated with bird flu could be achieved when the vac­cine pow­der was di­rectly ad­min­is­tered to the lungs of the poul­try. In ad­di­tion, ex­cre­tion of virus in those vac­ci­nated an­i­mals was re­duced to prac­ti­cally zero.¡

Lasers keep chick­ens safe

The UK gov­ern­ment has ex­tended the AI pre­ven­tion zone to April 2017, with these re­stric­tions caus­ing havoc for free-range and or­ganic poul­try farms across the coun­try. How­ever, keep­ers are be­ing al­lowed to let their birds out pro­vided they have en­hanced biose­cu­rity mea­sures in place and can be kept sep­a­rate from wild birds. Or­chard Eggs in West Sus­sex is tak­ing ad­van­tage of the lat­est laser tech­nol­ogy to pro­tect its birds.

“Our birds are housed across 50 acres of or­chard and we want to do ev­ery­thing to keep them safe from in­fec­tion. The au­to­mated laser seemed like an ideal so­lu­tion to com­ple­ment all of our other biose­cu­rity mea­sures,” says Daniel Hoe­berichts, owner of Or­chard Eggs.

The au­to­mated laser is an in­no­va­tive method of re­pelling un­wanted birds with­out caus­ing harm to the wild birds, the chick­ens and the sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment. The laser is silent and shows ef­fec­tive­ness of be­tween 90% and 100% in bird dis­per­sal at farms. This makes it a vi­able al­ter­na­tive to the ex­pen­sive method of in­stalling nets at the en­tire poul­try farm.¡

Im­port ban boosts lo­cal pro­duc­tion

AChi­nese ban on breed­ing birds from France and the USA is boost­ing the prof­its of lo­cal com­pa­nies, with lead­ing poul­try pro­ducer Shen­nong re­port­ing a 275% in­crease in prof­its over last year, and Shan­dong Yisheng Live­stock and Poul­try Breed­ing Com­pany post­ing a 240% in­crease.

Both com­pa­nies at­tribute the dra­matic in­creases to the ban on im­ported breed­ers, say­ing that this is help­ing to push prices up and in­crease the over­all price of chicken prod­ucts.¡

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